Horses are particularly unique in their desire to access the greener grass that grows on the other side of the fence. This desire can damage both the horse and the fence.
There are several types of fence that will contain a horse safely, and even more – in our experience – that won’t. Here are a few thoughts on what makes a safe (and unsafe) horse fence.
Smooth HT wire is arguably the cheapest fence to build, but is not something that we would consider safe for horses. It is the least visible and, should a horse get tangled in it or run through it, the results are generally catastrophic as HT wire will slice flesh with ease. HT also needs to be electrified to be effective; this doesn’t disqualify it as good fence, but it can lead to increased maintenance.
Barbed wire has many of the same pros and cons of smooth wire. Inexpensive, but not the safest. Horses don’t seem to have the respect for barbed wire that cattle do; many horses will ride a barbed wire fence down if they want what’s on the other side.
Braided ribbon or cord is designed for temporary use and rotational grazing. In our opinion, it should only be used as a temporary interior fence.
Woven wire is a good option, but care should be taken in selecting the right specification of wire. It is important to keep in mind what the specific function of your fence will be. Two-hundred acres of pasture for six horses (and no livestock on the other side) wouldn’t require near the fence that dry lots for stallions would. Our pick for a good, all around, safe horse fence would be 2” x 4” Tornado Torus Stiff Stay – in either 48” or 60” height – with a coated HT hot wire on top.
The 2”x4” pattern is small enough to keep a hoof from slipping through, which will reduce the chances of injury. Certainly, wider patterns will work, and that would be up to the horseman / woman to decide what the best choice would be. Woven wire works better in longer stretches, as maintaining proper tension can be a challenge in stretches less than 30 or so feet. Inline tensioning devices, like Gripples, do make shorter stretches more feasible.
Board fence, or post and rail fence, is still a very desirable option, especially in small lots and along road frontage and driveways. The standard is typically a four board, or Kentucky Four Plank, but it can also easily be constructed in a three board or five board configuration. Posts are typically a Southern Yellow Pine 5-6” x 8’, CCA or Creosote treated, and can be round or faced. Boards are typically CCA treated Poplar, Oak, or Creosote treated Southern Yellow Pine. Board fence – although generally more expensive – can carry an economic advantage in small lots and multiple gate situations, since no bracing is required. Should a repair be necessary, board fence is among the easiest to fix.
Coated wire and coated rail are the modern solutions to a few of the age-old maintenance and safety issues. With more durability and less maintenance, rail products, like Horserail, make a wonderful alternative to traditional board fence. Coated HT wire products, like Hotcote, provide visibility, safety, and the option to electrify. Both products make a great addition to the top of woven wire. If you like the idea of a “rail” on top, but also need to electrify, Hottop will fulfil your needs.